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A Message to the Community from Dr. Uriah Kim

In a statement addressed to the GTU school community this week, including faculty, staff, and MA and PhD students, Dr. Uriah Kim, President (Interim) and Dean, reinforced the institution’s commitment to advocating for the end of hatred and racism in all its forms. 

The GTU joins hands with many others across our community, city, state, nation and world in its steadfast devotion to seeing the light of justice lead to a better future. As one step in this direction, we are inviting GTU students, faculty, and staff to contribute your thoughts on two things:

  • One line expressing what you would do, and what changes you would affect, if you had powers you do not currently possess.
  • One line expressing what you will do, and what changes you commit to strive for, with the powers you now have.

Please send your submissions to justiceforall@gtu.edu by this Sunday, June 7th. From there, we will weave together your many voices and publish a letter of lament and hope in commemoration of George Floyd, and the many others impacted by such senseless injustice, on the GTU Voices blog.  

Read the full statement from Dr. Kim below:

Dear GTU Staff, Faculty, and Students:

I wish I were a great poet; then perhaps it would be easier to capture the complexity and depth of feelings, thoughts, and impacts affecting our community as we witnessed the unjust killing of George Floyd, the subsequent protests, and the painful destruction to follow. Lamentably, this was only the latest—not the first—such turn of events, and finding words adequate to address them are never easy.

There are many eloquent and powerful statements that faith and community leaders, educators, public personalities, commentators, and friends have offered in the past few days. Some are more helpful than others in addressing the unconscionable racially motivated injustice and violence that continues to devastate the United States. Regardless, I know that an overwhelming sense of sorrow, disappointment, frustration, and indignation will continue to press on my heart, as I’m sure it will for many of you, as we seek true and sustaining justice and healing. The injustice we are now witnessing impresses a moral duty on all of us to take part in treating such acts with unequivocal condemnation and actively working to root out and reform such unholy prejudice.

At the GTU, we teach the virtue of discernment, and hold a common bond in our deep commitment to working toward the greater good for all peoples, especially those whose lives are most impacted by the deplorable consequences of prejudice, iniquity, and racism. In the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Such injustice, sadly, is right on our doorsteps, as we are repeatedly reminded. In an all-too-relevant memory, I have found myself thinking back to the Los Angeles riots of 1992 following the acquittal of four police officers who were videotaped using excessive, brutal force while detaining Rodney King. This American tragedy has had a lasting, life-changing impact on my life and work; it is heartbreaking to witness that so little has changed in the nearly 30 years since.

But bearing witness also means answering the call of our duty to respond—responsibly, with empathy, and, perhaps, with a healthy dose of realism. As we know, the injustices we seek to rectify run deep. That is not an excuse to despair, but a challenge to muster commitment to the cause with equal or greater depth. We must not allow any person, or any thing, to paralyze us to inaction. We must trust that our fight for justice will in the end prevail. Returning to the great modern prophet the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”

Indeed, we are living through a time of great upheaval and change. I pray that we use it wisely and respond courageously. For though times of change are disruptive, they are also moments that present the greatest opportunities to forge a new vision, when rigid and unjust ways can be pushed out—giving way to the light of greater wisdom.

As we share in a collective lament for the loss of George Floyd and so many others, the legacy of racial injustice and violence that plagues our nation, the human rights violations throughout history that persist to the present, and the devastating consequences to our lives and communities, I would like to invite our community to participate in a moment of collective reflection on what we can do to make a difference.

To all GTU students, faculty, and staff who wish to participate, you are encouraged to contribute your thoughts on two things:

  • One line expressing what you would do, and what changes you would affect, if you had powers you do not currently possess
  • One line expressing what you will do, and what changes you commit to strive for, with the powers you now have.

Please send your submissions to justiceforall@gtu.edu by this Sunday, June 7th. From there, we will weave together your many voices and publish a letter of lament and hope in commemoration of George Floyd, and the many others impacted by such senseless injustice, on the GTU Voices blog. In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Now is a time when our communities need to come together—at every level. In the face of pandemic, in the face of violence, in the face of injustice, one of our greatest strengths is our shared vision for, and dedication to working towards a brighter future that belongs to us all.

With a heavy, but hopeful heart, and in solidarity with the unheard,

Uriah
President (Interim)
Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs